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California turns to the ballot to address income inequality

by AirTalk®

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Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich testifies before the Joint Economic Committee January 16, 2014 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Income inequality is expected to be a major theme of President Obama's State of the Union address tonight. There are signs that the gap between the rich and poor in America has been widening for decades and there is no consensus in Washington over what, if anything, to do about it.

It's unlikely Obama will be able to move any proposals through a deadlocked Congress this year so the real developments may come on the state level. Several ideas are percolating through California and may end up as ballot initiatives in the November election.

Potential initiatives including raising the state's minimum wage to $12 per hour, a cap on hospital executive's compensation and a plan to tax oil companies for each barrel produced in the state. It's early days and it's unclear which initiatives will make it past the signature stage. But is there a new political appetite for solutions to the income inequality problem?

Is the widening wage gap something that even needs to be addressed? How does the public respond to these types of wage-equalization initiatives?


Jon Fleischman, publisher of and former executive director of the state Republican Party

Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause

Joe Garofoli, wealth and political reporter with the San Francisco Chronicle

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